There are two main things you will need to focus on if you want to live off-grid: using less energy and figuring out how you are going to cleanly produce the energy you do use.
In a recent post titled Fossil Fuel Reduction strategy I covered the three components of reducing fossil fuel consumption (which also correspond with living off-grid): Conservation, Efficiency, and Clean Energy. Conservation and Efficiency fall under using less energy and Clean Energy is the energy you produce. In order to figure out where to start with conserving energy, check out my post on home energy consumption.
In this post I'm going to focus more on producing your own Clean Energy, because that is usually what people are interested in when they want to quit relying on their utility. If you are interested in Conservation and Efficiency, I have loads of posts already on those topics. Once you finally do figure out how you are going to produce your own clean energy, you will have to figure out how to lower your consumption (conservation and efficiency) so you can supply all of your energy needs.
In order to produce enough electricity to live on you have to look at your geographic area and see what options are available to you. The option available to everyone is a diesel generator, but this isn't clean energy unless you can rig your generator to work on bio-diesel (preferably made from used grease from restaurants). The main clean energy options for producing electricity off-grid include (click on the words for articles I've written on each subject):
But along with producing electricity to operate things like a refrigerator and any electronics in the home, you may also use Clean Energy to provide heat for your home in the form of :
- Wood Pellet stove
- Outdoor Wood Furnace
- Solar thermal water heating
- Solar thermal space heating
While there are solar cooling systems or you could use your electricity to run an air conditioner, cooling systems really aren't a practical use of energy if you are planning on living off the grid. Usually an air conditioner is considered a luxury and it would be fairly expensive to build a clean electricity producing system that could power the home necessities and an air conditioner. If you plan on living off the grid and you will need cooling in the summer focus on how to improve the air flow through your home, install energy saving windows, keep the windows open when it's hot, and run ceiling fans.
If you are like me and have dreams of one day being self-reliant and cutting the chains from the utility, start thinking about what clean energy options are available to you. While you are designing your clean energy systems, start buying energy efficient products and conserving as much as possible. Once you make good habits out of preventing energy from being used in the first place, you will be able to install a clean energy producing system that will satisfy all your needs and get you off the grid!
Are you currently living off the grid? If so, I'd love to feature you in a blog post like the one we wrote on Guy Marsden.
(note: I am not considering water in this post. That is for another time!)